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Sukhothai

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The old city of Sukhothai

The old city of Sukhothai

 

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Thailand - Sukhothai

Background to my trip

I like to travel at the quietest time of year in Thailand before the hordes of foreign tourists arrive, and September is generally a good month. Not many Thais travel at this time of year either because of their strange way of thinking.

 

Reflections in the Old City, Sukhothai

Reflections in the Old City, Sukhothai

 

On two successive years I have been warned not to travel during September by Thais and when I tell them it isn't a problem they look at me as if I am mad. They seem to have this fear of natural phenomena - rain, and floods in particular.

As I was about to part I started to receive e-mails, SMS messages and phone calls that there was flooding in the north of the country and it was as if the whole region was under six feet of water. The exact same thing happened last year.

Yes, I saw some flooding in low-lying areas and some houses and buildings had been quite badly affected but the problems are always localised and easy to avoid if you are travelling with no fixed destination.

 

Lotus flowers in the Old City, Sukhothai

Lotus flowers in the Old City, Sukhothai

 

The benefits of travelling at this time of year are cooler temperatures, not many tourists, lots of accommodation availability, and bargain prices. The rain doesn't bother me; in fact, I like it. After three years in Thailand I have come to dislike those days when there is just a blue sky, no cloud cover and the sun beats down incessantly making life unbearable outside.

I try to get some time off work every September in order to travel around Thailand. In September 2006 it was my plan to get up to Chiang Rai and because I travelled by bus from Bangkok, Sukhothai was a convenient break point.

It is also a very pretty province and has a lot of historical interest of course so I was quite keen to see it.

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Getting there

The Thais are talented at lots of things but one thing they seem to be completely hopeless at is estimating time and distance. On my map of Thailand I saw that the distance between Bangkok and Sukhothai is about two-thirds the distance from Hat Yai to Bangkok. The latter journey takes around 12 hours by road so my estimate from Bangkok to Sukhothai was about eight hours.

 

The Old City, Sukhothai

The Old City, Sukhothai

 

On the way to Mo Chit bus terminal in Bangkok, which is where the Sukhothai-bound buses leave from, I asked the taxi driver how long it would take. His estimate was two to three hours which was obviously completely wrong.

I made sure that he hadn't misheard me but he insisted on two to three hours. Once I got on the bus, I asked the woman who was in charge of looking after the passengers. She didn't know. The fact that a bus company employee didn't know may be unusual in other countries but not in Thailand.

She asked a passenger and I got a revised estimate of five to five-and-a-half hours. We actually arrived after almost exactly eight hours which was my original estimate. The moral of the story is don't bother asking the locals, just look at a map.

I'm still not sure why this is. It could be a 'loss of face' thing where if they don't know they just make something up. But it could also have something to do with the fact that the Thais have a completely different concept of time to foreigners.

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Accommodation

I didn't book any accommodation in advance when I visited Sukhothai and, as a result, I ran into a few problems. It's always best to book in advance.

 

Ancient water pipes in the Old City, Sukhothai

Ancient water pipes in the Old City, Sukhothai

 

The first problem was that I arrived fairly late in the day and the second was that the bus station seemed to be quite a distance out of town. Caught in this situation, where it isn't possible just to look around, you then find yourself at the mercy of the locals.

What you will find in these situations is that honest Thais will say nothing, but foreigners arriving at bus stations will be approached by a number of people who are not always very honest.

 

The Old City, Sukhothai

The Old City, Sukhothai

 

Even if you have a place in mind, they will tell you that the buses and sawng-thaews have stopped for the day, or that it's a very long distance away, or that everything is closed there. Unless you actually know for sure, you don't know whether they are lying or not.

I had been talking to a girl on the bus about where to stay and had decided to stay somewhere near the old city but a Thai guy approached me at the bus station and told me all of the above, that is, there were no sawng-thaews and everything closed after 6pm.

 

Ancient Buddha image, Sukhothai

Ancient Buddha image, Sukhothai

 

Conveniently, however, he knew of a good place in town which happened to be run by his sister. Oh, how convenient. I could sense what was happening but I was a bit stuck and it was no big deal, so I went to look. The next little rip off was getting there. What should have been a Bt20 journey was Bt50, but again, no big deal.

The place I was taken to was a typical backpacker type guest house: J&J Guest House 122/1501 Maeramphan, 64000, Sukhothai. Tel. +66 (0)55 620095. It was about as basic as you can get, but it had all the essentials for backpackers - menus in English and farang food, copies of Lonely Planet and transport details to the next location on the banana pancake trail thus aiding their quest to visit as many places in Thailand as possible while learning as little about Thailand as possible.

This area has other similar guest houses and it is a bit of a dump but it's close to town and the sawng-thaew stand to get to the old city. I am never entirely comfortable in a backpacker environment but it was only for a couple of nights and it only cost Bt250 a night. The mosquito screens were in good condition and I had no insect problems in the night. It was fairly quiet and seemed fairly secure.

You can save yourself a lot of time, money and hassle simply by booking somewhere on-line in advance. Both Agoda and Booking.com offer a large selection of hotels and guesthouses in Sukhothai to choose from.

Click here to book accommodation in Sukothai through Agoda
Click here to book accommodation in Sukothai through Booking.com

A tourist information brochure I picked up listed the following hotels in the Sukhothai New City (Amphoe Meuang) area:

Hotel Name
Address
Rooms
Telephone
102/2 Jarot Withithong Road
238
+66 (0)55 613310-5; (0)55 633335-6
Ratchathanee
229 Jarot Withithong Road
81
+66 (0)55 612877; (0)55 611031
Thai Village
214 Jarot Withithong Road
80
+66 (0)55 697249; (0)55 697020-3
43 Singhawat Road
67
+66 (0)55 611193-4; (0)55 612038
River View
92/2 Nikorn Kasem Road
48
+66 (0)55 611656
Sukhothai
15/5 Singhawat Road
56
+66 (0)55 611131; (0)55 612028
Sawatdipong
56/2-5 Singhawat Road
52
+66 (0)55 611567; (0)55 612268
1-3 Nikorn Kasem Road
36
+66 (0)55 611385; (0)55 610600

The big Pailyn hotel, located on the road between the old and new cities, appeared to be where the large German tour groups were staying.

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Sukhothai New City

I saw very little of the new city but it seems just like a standard Thai provincial town. There is a resident farang presence (where isn't there in Thailand?) but it isn't that big. There didn't appear to be much to do there.

 

Flood defences, Sukhothai

Flood defences, Sukhothai

 

If you can't eat Thai food and need signs of farang life everywhere, stick to Bangkok, Patong or Pattaya. Sukhothai has the standard Thai rice and noodle shops, gold shops and a third-world fresh market with flies all over the meat and fish being sold. In other words, everything is completely normal for provincial Thailand.

 

Getting a foot massage in Sukhothai

Getting a foot massage in Sukhothai

 

Because Sukhothai has a tourist industry there are some tourist orientated massage shops and some of the restaurants have English menus and signs but primarily the town is a real Thai town and not a tourist ghetto. I certainly don't object to these things - a foot massage did the trick after one whole day spent walking around - but I don't like tourist areas where all signs of normal Thai life have disappeared.

The river, as it passes through Sukhothai, is very wide and very high. There were some minor floods around town during my visit and sand bags had been placed alongside the river in an attempt to guard against flooding. After looking at the river, I would imagine that Sukhothai floods very easily in the rainy season.

Sukhothai Historical Park

The old city is known locally as Muang Gao in Thai and is approximately 12km from the new city. Many foreigners refer to it as Sukhothai Historical Park. Sawng-thaews travel between the old and new cities for a fare of Bt20 and I have never had a problem getting ripped off using sawng-thaews. That is definitely not the case with tuk-tuks and motorbike taxis.

 

The Old City, Sukhothai

The Old City, Sukhothai

 

The sawng-thaews start early in the morning and I was on my way shortly after 6am to take advantage of cooler temperatures and better light for photography.

Although comparisons can be made with Ayuthaya, Sukhothai has a different kind of atmosphere. The temple remains are concentrated in a smaller area and located away from residential areas. Many are located within the confines of the old city walls and a fee is charged to visit all of them rather than having fees at individual temples, as is the case in Ayuthaya.

 

Novice monks, Sukhothai

Novice monks, Sukhothai

 

What is particularly nice about Sukhothai is the lack of traffic; the quietness adding to the serene atmosphere. Probably the best way to get around the ruins is to rent a bicycle and this is an absolute bargain.

Bicycle rental is Bt20 for the day and they don't even require a deposit. Hand over Bt20 and they give you a bike plus a useful map of the historical park. OK, the bikes aren't the latest titanium-framed, multi-geared, off-road models but they are quite good enough.

Getting into the park wasn't as straightforward as I'd imagined due to the fact that the two most obvious entrances were closed. However, after a bit of peddling power I managed to find the entrance.

 

Buddha image at the Old City of Sukhothai

Buddha image at the Old City of Sukhothai

 

It goes without saying that there is a dual-pricing policy in place and this fact is hidden from the majority of foreign visitors by displaying prices for Thais using Thai numbers. The monuments are divided into zones. Visiting individual zones costs Bt30 or Bt40 (Bt10 for Thais) or you can buy a pass to see everything which costs Bt150 (Bt30 for Thais).

Inside the old city walls, Wat Mahathat is the largest and most important temple. Other important temples are Wat Si Chum and Wat Sa Si.

Sukhothai is probably the number one location in Thailand for the annual Loy Gratong festival which is held all over Thailand on the full moon of the twelfth lunar month (some time in November). With tens of thousands of lighted gratongs afloat, and the old temples illuminated by floodlights and fireworks it must be an amazing spectacle.

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Loy Gratong

Certain places in Thailand are well known for the celebration of certain Thai festivals. Chiang Mai is well known for the Songkran festival in April and Sukhothai is well known for the Loy Gratong festival in November (Loy Kratong, as it is commonly transliterated).

My visit didn't coincide with Loy Gratong, but I had a good look around the old temples in the ancient city and would imagine that this location is a perfect backdrop for Loy Gratong.

I hate Songkran because it has grown into a totally uncivilised nationwide water fight in which people cannot choose not to participate, but Loy Gratong is a very pleasant, very civilised festival.

Sukhothai is famous for Loy Gratong in Thailand and I would expect that the city's hotels get fully booked for the festival. If you want to go, first check the date on which Loy Gratong will fall. The date is based on the lunar calendar and therefore the date changes every year.

Once you know the date, make sure that you book your hotel a long way in advance to make sure that you get a reservation.

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Si Satchanalai Historical Park

If Sukhothai didn't manage to satiate your appetite for ancient historical temples, there is another historical park containing ancient temple ruins 52km away. Si Satchanalai Historical Park is located in Tambon Si Satchanalai in Si Satchanalai district.

 

The Old City, Sukhothai

The Old City, Sukhothai

 

Local guest houses and Lonely Planet guides will be able to provide you with details. There is even a telephone number to call for information but I don't know if it is a valid number, whether the person at the other end can speak English or what kind of information will be given. You can try calling +66 (0)5 567 9211.

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Visitors to Sukhothai

Different locations in Thailand attract very different types of visitor. I am grateful for this fact because it enables me to avoid the less desirable types fairly easily. I can do this by simply avoiding a handful of certain very well-known locations in Thailand, such as Pattaya.

 

Detail from the Old City, Sukhothai

Detail from the Old City, Sukhothai

 

Sukhothai attracts a better class of tourist. It isn't on the main 'banana pancake trail' and therefore I didn't see too many farang kee-nok backpackers. Those types start off in the Khaosan Road and if they head north they go to Chiang Mai or Pai.

 

Ah, wunderschön

Ah, wunderschön

 

Another tourist type I have seen a lot of away from the mainstream tourist trail is the five-star "See the real Thailand from the comfort of a luxury coach" organised-guided-tour type. They tend to be from mainland Europe, generally Germany, and travel in large numbers.

A large group appeared at Sukhothai and as they approached I heard the gasps of, "Ah, wunderschön." Brits don't go in for this type of cultural experience, much preferring the Thai equivalents of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, which they can find at Pattaya and Patong.

Sukhothai, of course, is an important cultural and historical location for Thais so lots of Thais from elsewhere in the country visit. It is also a very popular location for the annual Loy Gratong festival.

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Ramkhamhaeng National Museum

Located just outside the Old City and named after the most famous King of the Sukhothai period who reigned between 1279 and 1299, this museum was opened by the Department of Fine Arts on 25th January 1964 by the King and Queen. The telephone number is +66 (0)55 612167

 

Ramkhamhaeng National Museum, Sukhothai

Ramkhamhaeng National Museum, Sukhothai

 

When I visited, the museum was exhibiting artwork painted by HM the King. The King is a multi-talented man and painted a lot during the early part of his reign. A project was started to preserve this important work and I was thoroughly impressed, not just with the paintings but with the preservation techniques.

On display were not original paintings but facsimiles made using photographic techniques. Despite this, they were indistinguishable from original paintings. I'm not sure if the exhibition is permanent or temporary to mark the King's 60th year on the throne.

Sukhothai played an important role in the development of the Thai alphabet and there are some very interesting exhibits showing Thai characters from different periods and how they have evolved into the characters used today.

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Away from the tourist areas

I enjoy visiting places of interest in Thailand as much as anyone but it isn't sufficient for me just to traipse from one tourist attraction to the next. The best thing about Thailand is the Thai people and so meeting and talking with as many locals as possible is important to me when I travel.

 

Making tourist souvenirs in Sukhothai

Making tourist souvenirs in Sukhothai

 

It's amazing how tainted Thais get who deal with tourists every day and it's equally amazing how different the ones are who don't deal with tourists every day - even though they may exist next door to each other.

After visiting the Old City I had some breakfast at a place on the main road and was served by a young waitress who obviously sees farang tourists every day. She walked sullenly over to my table to take my order, didn't smile at all and was thoroughly unimpressed when I ordered in Thai. It wasn't a particularly pleasant experience at all.

 

Cows grazing amidst ancient temples, Sukhothai

Cows grazing amidst ancient temples, Sukhothai

 

I then walked down some of the sois off the main road to meet the real locals and it was like stepping into a different world. Most tourists, I expect, go straight back to the new city after visiting the old temples and don't wander around the back lanes. If they do, it is unlikely that many can speak to the locals.

My Thai is years away from being fluent but I can have basic conversations and it makes a big difference. The smiles returned and I started having the interactions I enjoy having in Thailand without the sullen faces and jaded attitudes. Farangs spoil Thailand and they spoil the Thais.

There didn't appear to be much work for the locals outside of the tourist industry. Many of those that don't work in the industry directly seem to work indirectly. I saw a lot of people making tourist souvenirs in their homes.

When you see what opportunities are available for young people not only in Sukhothai but all over provincial Thailand, it is not surprising that so many go to Bangkok and the major tourist areas to seek work.

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Transportation from Sukhothai

There is an airport at Sukhothai but it is quite a distance out of town. Bangkok Airways has an office in Sukhothai. The address is 99 Moo 4, Klongkrajong, Sawankaloke, Sukhothai 64110 and the telephone number is +66 (0)55 647 224-6.

I would guess though that most visitors arrive and depart by bus. The following information is from the bus station at Sukhothai and was current in September 2006 but I can't vouch that it will remain accurate and it should be used as a guide only. Some of the departure times were marked with asterisks but, in true Thai style, there was no explanation as to what the asterisks indicated. Perhaps these services only run on public holidays or something?

Sukhothai to Chiang Mai

07:15
2nd air-con
Wintour
Bt234
*08:20
2nd air-con
Sukhothaitour
Bt234
09:15
2nd air-con
Wintour
Bt234
10:00
2nd air-con
Wintour
Bt234
10:00
2nd air-con
E-santour
Bt234
10:20
2nd air-con
Sukhothaitour
Bt234
11:00
2nd air-con
Wintour
Bt234
12:00
Non air-con
Wintour
Bt167
13:00
2nd air-con
E-santour
Bt234
13:40
2nd air-con
Wintour
Bt234
*14:20
2nd air-con
Sukhothaitour
Bt234
15:00
2nd air-con
E-santour
Bt234
16:30
2nd air-con
E-santour
Bt234
20:15
2nd air-con
Wintour
Bt234
01:30
2nd air-con
Phuluangtour
Bt234
02:30
1st air-con
Phuluangtour
Bt301

Sukhothai to Chiang Rai

06:40
2nd air-con
Wintour
Bt260
09:00
2nd air-con
Wintour
Bt260
10:30
2nd air-con
Wintour
Bt260
11:30
2nd air-con
Wintour
Bt260

Sukhothai to Khon Kaen

08:30
2nd air-con
E-santour
Bt251
09:30
Non air-con
E-santour
Bt179
11:00
2nd air-con
E-santour
Bt251
13:00
2nd air-con
E-santour
Bt251
14:00
2nd air-con
E-santour
Bt251
23:30
2nd air-con
Phuluangtour
Bt251
00:45
1st air-con
Phuluangtour
Bt322
 

Sukhothai to Nan

14:30
2nd air-con
Government bus
Bt185
15:00
2nd air-con
Cherdchaitour
Bt185
 
 

Sukhothai to Mae Sot

08:15
Van
Sukhothaiyanyon
Bt132
09:15
Van
Sukhothaiyanyon
Bt132
10:15
Van
Sukhothaiyanyon
Bt132
11:15
Van
Sukhothaiyanyon
Bt132
12:45
Van
Sukhothaiyanyon
Bt132
13:30
Van
Sukhothaiyanyon
Bt132
14:00
Van
Sukhothaiyanyon
Bt132
15:15
Van
Sukhothaiyanyon
Bt132
16:15
Van
Sukhothaiyanyon
Bt132
 
 
 

Sukhothai to Nakhon Sawan - Ayuthaya - Bangkok

07:50
2nd air-con
Government bus
Bt255
08:00
1st air-con
Wintour
Bt349
08:30
2nd air-con
Government bus
Bt255
08:30
1st air-con
Cherdchaitour
Bt349
08:45
1st air-con
Wintour
Bt349
09:00
1st air-con
Tunjit Tour
Bt349
09:10
1st air-con
Wintour
Bt349
09:10
1st air-con
Government bus
Bt328
09:20
1st air-con
Cherdchaitour
Bt349
09:45
VIP 32 seat
Phitsanulok Yanyon
Bt407
09:45
2nd air-con
Government bus
Bt255
10:00
2nd air-con
Government bus
Bt255
10:10
1st air-con
Wintour
Bt349
10:40
1st air-con
Cherdchaitour
Bt349
11:00
1st air-con
Wintour
Bt349
11:15
1st air-con
Phitsanulok Yanyon
Bt349
11:45
2nd air-con
Government bus
Bt255
12:45
2nd air-con
Government bus
Bt255
13:00
1st air-con
Wintour
Bt349
13:20
2nd air-con
Cherdchaitour
Bt255
14:30
1st air-con
Wintour
Bt349
17:00
1st air-con
Phitsanulok Yanyon
Bt349
17:45
1st air-con
Wintour
Bt349
19:45
2nd air-con
Government bus
Bt255
20:00
2nd air-con
Government bus
Bt255
20:00
1st air-con
Cherdchaitour
Bt349
20:30
2nd air-con
Cherdchaitour
Bt255
20:30
VIP 32 seat
Phitsanulok Yanyon
Bt407
20:40
2nd air-con
Government bus
Bt255
21:00
1st air-con
Tunjit tour
Bt349
21:00
2nd air-con
Government bus
Bt255
21:20
2nd air-con
Government bus
Bt255
21:30
1st air-con
Cherdchaitour
Bt349
21:30
1st air-con
Phitsanulok Yanyon
Bt349
21:40
2nd air-con
Government bus
Bt255
21:45
1st air-con
Wintour
Bt349
21:50
1st air-con
Government bus
Bt328
22:00
2nd air-con
Wintour
Bt275
22:30
1st air-con
Wintour
Bt349
22:30
1st air-con
Phitsanulok Yanyon
Bt349
22:40
1st air-con
Wintour
Bt349
23:00
2nd air-con
Government bus
Bt255
 
 

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King Ramkhamhaeng

In the later Ayuthaya period, Cambodian and Khmer influence introduced the Brahman notions of divine kingship into Thailand. However, during the Sukhothai period under King Ramkhamhaeng's reign, the monarch was seen as a benevolent father-figure to the nation.

Ramkhamhaeng is also credited with developing the Thai script - based on other languages. The following inscription describes life in Thailand during Ramkhamhaeng's reign. Some parts are very well known but I was never able to find a complete version until I visited the Ramkhamhaeng National Museum in Sukhothai where large versions hang on the wall.

Photography isn't allowed in the museum but I made a request and was given special permission to take a photograph. The following was typed by myself from the photograph. It's a nice portrayal of life in Thailand several hundred years ago and it is also good background to show why the Thai monarchy is so revered in Thailand.

By publishing it here I wanted it to be made available to a wider audience.

"My father was named Sri Indraditya, my mother was named Lady Suang, my elder brother was named Ban Muang. There were five of us born from the same womb: three boys and two girls. My eldest brother died when he was still a child.

When I was nineteen years old, Lord Sam Jon, the ruler of Muang Chot, came to attack Muang Tak. My father went to fight Lord Sam Jon on the left; Lord Sam Jon drove forward on the right. Lord Sam Jon attacked in force; my father's men fled in confusion. I did not flee. I mounted my elephant, opened (a way through) the soldiers, pushed him ahead in front of my father. I fought an elephant duel with Lord Sam Jon. I fought Lord Sam Jon's elephant, Mas Muang by name, and beat him. Lord Sam Jon fled. Then my father named me Bra Ramgamhaeng (Phra Ramkhamhaeng) because I fought Sam Jon's elephant.

In my father's lifetime I served my father and I served my mother. When I caught any game or fish I brought them to my father. When I picked any acid or sweet fruits that were delicious and good to eat, I brought them to my father. When I went hunting elephants, either by lasso or by (driving them into) a corral, I brought them to my father. When I raided a town or village and captured elephants, young men or women or rank, silver or gold, I turned them over to my father. When my father died, my elder brother was still alive, and I served him steadfastly as I had served my father. When my elder brother died, I got the whole kingdom for myself.

In the time of King Ramkhamhaeng this land of Sukodai is thriving. There is fish in the water and rice in the fields. The lord of the realm does not levy toll on his subjects for travelling the roads; they lead their cattle to trade or ride their horses to sell; whoever wants to trade in elephants does so; whoever wants to trade in horses, does so; whoever wants to trade in silver or gold, does so. When any commoner or man of rank dies, his estate - his elephants, wives, children, granaries, rice, retainers and groves areca and betel - is left in its entirety to his son. When commoners or men of rank differ and disagree, (the King) examines the case to get at the truth and then settles it justly for them. He does not connive with thieves or favour concealers (of stolen goods). When he sees someone's rice he does not covet it, when he sees someone's wealth he does not get angry. If anyone riding an elephant comes to see him to put his own country under his protection, he helps him, treats him generously, and takes care of him; if (someone comes to him) with no elephants, no horses, no young men or women of rank, no silver or gold, he gives him some, and helps him until he can establish a state (of his own).

When he captures enemy warriors, he does not kill them or beat them. He has hung a bell in the opening of the gate over there: if any commoner in the land has a grievance which sickens his belly and gripes his heart, and which he wants to make known to his ruler and lord, it is easy; he goes and strikes the bell which the King has hung there; King Ramkhamhaeng, the ruler of the kingdom, hears the call; he goes and questions the man, examines the case, and decides it justly for him. So the people of this Muang (city) of Sukhodai praise him. They plant areca groves and better groves all over this Muang; coconut groves and jackfruit groves are planted in abundance in this Muang; mango groves and tamarind groves are planted in abundance in this Muang. Anyone who plants them gets them for himself and keeps them. Inside this city there is a marvellous pond of water which is as clear and as good to drink as the water of the Khong in the dry season. The triple rampart surrounding this city of Sukhodai measures three thousand four hundred fathoms.

The people of this city of Sukhodai like to observe the precepts and bestow alms. King Ramkhamhaeng, the ruler of this city of Sukhodai, as well as the princes and princess, the young men and women of rank and all the noblefolk without exception, both male and female, all have faith in the religion of the Buddha, and all observe the precepts during the rainy season. At the close of the rainy season they celebrate the Kathin ceremonies, which last a month, with heaps of cowries, with heaps of areca nuts, with heaps of flowers, with cushions and pillows: the gifts they present (to the monks) as accessories to the Kathin (amount to) two million each year. Everyone goes to the Arannika (forest) over there for the recitation of the Kathin. When they are ready to return to the city they walk together, forming a line all the way from the Arannika to the parade ground. They repeatedly do homage together, accompanied by the music of instruments and singing. Whoever wants to make merry, does so; whoever wants to laugh, does so; whoever wants to sing, does so. As this city of Sukhodai has four very big gates, and as the people always crowd together to come in and watch the King lighting candles and setting off fireworks, the city is filled to the bursting point.

[II/23-27] Inside this city of Sukhodai, there are viharas, there are golden statues of the Buddha, there are Images eighteen cubits in height (Attharasa): there are big Images of Buddha and medium-sized ones, there are monks, Nissayamuttas, Theras and Mahatheras.

[II/27-33] West of this city of Sukhodai is the Arnnika (Forest Dwelling), built by King Ramkhamhaeng as a gift of the Mahathera Sangharaja, the sage who has studied the scriptures from beginning to end, who is wiser than any other monk in the kingdom, and who has come here from Muang Sri Dharmmaraja. Inside the Aranyika there is a large rectangular vihara tail exceedingly beautiful, and an eighteen-cubit Image of Buddha standing up.

[II/33-35] East of this city of Sukhodai there are viharas and monks, there is the large lake, there are groves of areca and betel, upland and lowland farms, homesteads, large and small villages, groves of mango and tamarind. [They] are as beautiful to look at as if they were made for that purpose.

[III/1-3] North of this city of Sukhodai there is the market, the bazaar, there is the Acana Image, there are the Prasadas, there are groves of coconut and jackfruit, upland and lowland farms, homesteads, large and small villages.

[III/3-10] South of this city of Sukhodai there are kutis (monk's residence) with viharas and resident monks, there is the dam, there are groves of coconut and jackfruit, groves of mango and tamarind, there are mountain streams and there is Bra Khabung (Phra Khaphung). The divine spirit of that mountain is more powerful than any other spirit in the kingdom. Whatever lord may rule this kingdom of Sukhodai, if he makes obeisance to him properly, with the right offerings, this kingdom will endure, this kingdom will thrive; but if obeisance is not made properly or the offerings are not right, the spirit of the hill will no longer protect it and the kingdom will be lost.

[III/10-27] In 1214 saka, a year of the dragon, King Ramkhamhaeng, lord of this kingdom of Sri Sajjannalai and Sukhodai, who had planted these sugar palm trees fourteen years before, commanded his craftsmen to carve a slab of stone and place it in the midst of these sugar palm trees. On the day of the full moon, the eighth day of the waxing moon, the day of the full moon, and the eighth day of the waning moon, [one of] the monks, theras or mahatheras goes up and sits on the stone slab to preach the Dharma to the throng of lay-people who observe the precepts. When it is not a day for preaching the Dharma, King Ramkhamhaeng, lord of the kingdom of Sri Sajjannalai and Sukhodai, goes up, sits on the stone slab, and lets the officials, lords and princes discuss affairs of state with him. On the day of the new moon and the day of the full moon, when the white elephant named Rujagri has been decked out with howdah and lasseled head cloth, and always with gold on both tusks, King Ramkhamhaeng mounts him, rides away to the Arannika to pay homage to the Sangharaja, and then returns. There is an inscription in the city of Jaliang, erected beside the Sri Ratanadhatu (stupa). There is an inscription in the cave called Tham Bra Ram (Phra Ram Cave). Which is located on the bank of the River Sambai (Samphai); and there is an inscription in the Ratanadhara Cave. In this sugar-palm grove there are two pavilions, one named Sala Bra Mas (Phra Mat), one named Buddha Sala (Phutta Sala). This slab of stone is named Manangsilapatra. It is installed here for everyone to see.

[IV/1-4] All the Ma, the Kao, the Lao, the Dai of the lands under the vault of heaven and the Dai who live along the U and the Khong come to do obeisance to King Sri Indraditya's son King Ramkhamhaeng, who is lord of the kingdom of Sri Sajjannalai and Sukhodai.

[IV/4-8] In 1207 saka, a year of the boar, he caused the holy relics to be dug up so that everyone could see them. They were worshipped for a month and six days, then they were buried in the middle of Sri Sajjannalai, and a catiya was built on top of them which was finished in six years. A wall of rock enclosing the Bra Dhatu (the Temple of the Relics) was built which was finished in three years.

[IV/8-11] Formerly these Dai (Thai) letters did not exist. In 1205 saka, a year of the goat, King Ramkhamhaeng set his mind and his heart on devising those Dai letters, so these Dai letters exist because that lord devised them.

[IV/11-27] King Ramkhamhaeng was sovereign over all the Dai. He was the teacher who taught all the Dai to understand merit and the Dharma rightly. Among men who live in the lands of the Dai, there is no one to equal him in knowledge and wisdom, in bravery and courage, in strength and energy. He was able to subdue a throng of enemies who possessed broad kingdoms and many elephants. The places whose submission he received on the east include Sraluang, Song Khwae, Lum, Ba Cai, Sa Ga, the banks of the Khong, and Viang Can, Viang Gam which is the farthest place; on the south (they include) Gondi, Bra Bang (Phra Bang), Braek (Phraek), Subannabum, Rajaburi, Betjaburi, Sri Dharmaraja, and the seacoast, which is the farthest place; on the west (they include) Muang Chot, Muang ...n; and Honsbap, the seas being their limit; on the north, they include Muang Brae, Muang Man, Muang N..., Muang Blua and, beyond the banks of the Khong, Muang Java, which is the farthest place. All the people who live in these lands have been reared by him in accordance with the Dharma, every one of them."

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Visit Thailand

Thailand is an incredibly photogenic country, both for its landscapes and its people. Regardless of whether you enjoy large Asian cities, beaches and islands, or rice fields and mountains, Thailand has something for you and it is a dream destination for photographers.

One of the great things about visiting Thailand is that hotels are plentiful and a lot cheaper than in most other countries. I always use Agoda to book hotels in Thailand. The company was established in Thailand and has great local knowledge, as well as a huge inventory of hotels.

If you click on one of the destinations opposite you will get a list of hotel deals from Agoda. It's generally a good idea to book on-line because you will get a good room rate and you won't suffer the disappointment of arriving at a hotel to find that it is full.

I book hotels regularly in Thailand and I have always found Agoda to be the best on-line travel agent. At times I have spent a lot of time researching hotel prices and although other deals sometimes look better at first I always end up returning to Agoda.

If you don't wish to pay for your hotel at the time of booking, Booking.com normally allows you to pay when you check in at the hotel. Some people prefer this method, but I have always found Booking.com to be more expensive than Agoda.

If you want to compare prices between different on-line travel agents (OTAs) for a specific hotel, you can use a company such as HotelsCombined. However, you will normally find that Agoda is the cheapest and therefore you can save yourself time and money by just booking through Agoda in the first place.

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